America Has Lost Its Mind … How Can We Get It Back?

America Has Lost Its Mind … How Can We Get It Back?

Our country is on fire. We have become a viciously crippled, polarized society.  These days, an increasing majority of Americans passionately ally themselves with one or the other of two competing ideological extremes, then accuse the other side of every imaginable economic, intellectual, social, spiritual, and moral flaw. Now the people who disagree with us aren’t just “wrong,” they’re grossly stupid and evilly sinful. I’m old enough to remember when  people of good will who disagreed with each other on matters of policy and action could respect their differences but still work through them to reach consensus on what all parties could commit to support. These were consensual agreements based on fact — what’s actually happening — and anchored in a common ground of shared beliefs.  We have lost that good will. In fairness, the differences that now tragically and ominously divide us have always existed in the deep fabric of our nation  since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789: finding the delicate balance between the liberty granted individuals in a republic and the responsibilities of all people in a democratic society; between the powers relegated to the states (large and small) and to the federal government;  between the proper authority exercised by the three separate branches of government; between the enabling strengths and crippling limitations of both capitalism and socialism; between the promise of unlimited entrepreneurial possibilities and the harsh reality of working for a wage — or in the case of African slaves, no wage at all;  between our prosperity as a nation and our membership in a global economy;   and between the ideal of...
The Republican Health (sic) Care Act Crashed – Now What?

The Republican Health (sic) Care Act Crashed – Now What?

Trump’s most bizarre spin on the train wreck of the Republican’s Health Care Act was to blame its failure on the Democrats “We had no Democratic support. They weren’t going to give us a single vote.” There’s a reason why both Democrats and moderate Republicans opposed the Republican health care act re-negotiated with the ultra-right wing extremists in the so-called “Freedom Caucus.”  It was a terribly cruel, cynical attack on everyday Americans that would have stripped out outpatient services, emergency care, maternity benefits, mental health and drug treatment (for example targeted at America’s opioid epidemic), rehabilitation, laboratory services, and preventative medicine. What the Freedom Caucus insists on getting isn’t health care; it’s wealth care – their wealth. The president added that the “best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let ObamaCare explode. It’s exploding right now… Almost all states have big problems.” And this is the President who repeatedly has said, “”If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over. I mean, it’s no good. So I’m very liberal when it comes to health care. I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better.” Here’s a radical idea: we know there are flaws in ObamaCare – along with many positives. So now it’s time for moderate Republicans and Democrats to do what Trump actually proposed after the train wreck of the AHCA:  “Democrats will come to us and say, ‘Look, let’s get together and get a great health care bill or plan that’s really great for the people of our country.’” But...
Atlanta Won the Super Bowl

Atlanta Won the Super Bowl

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Giants fan. So the idea of beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl has a reassuring feel to it.  Plus my mom’s family is from Decatur, dating back generations before the War Between the States. Atlanta could use a break. Now Belichek (that’s not really an “American” name, is it?) and Brady get to join “Butcher Sherman.” I know you love conspiracies.  See http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2017/2/6/14523088/super-bowl-rigged-patriots-falcons-james-white-donald-trump    And certainly, the lying mainstream media all put out the “fake news” that New England won. That’s what they do, right? But Donald:  Lots of us actually watched the game. Yes, Edelman did an amazing David Tyree imitation. And Brady is, well, Brady, and Belichek is Belichek. Bottom line: championships are won when players make plays. The Patriots make the plays. That’s why they won. So it’s one thing to lie to the American people. You do that shamelessly.  You lost the popular vote because 3-5 million illegals (whom nobody, including Congressional Republicans) can find? The Mexicans are going to pay for a wall (that every national security expert with an iota of expertise and common sense says won’t stop illegal immigrants or drugs)?  Ooops. No. We taxpayers will foot the bill. Regulation needs to be eliminated? (A two-word answer – Wells Fargo). A “travel ban” isn’t a travel ban? (Your words) Our current vetting for admission takes 8 months to two years before entry with everybody including all the “alphabet agencies” getting their cut. That’s why there’s no more than 1 in 3-point something billion odds that any of us are in peril of getting attacked by a...

America’s New (un)Civil War – Part II

The furor over Donald Trump’s increasingly pitiful, dangerous insistence that the election is being “stolen” from him by the evil forces of tyranny abetted by a corrupted media, should be an early warning call.  The spirit of violent rebellion is rising again against the injustice and corruption of a government that has stopped listening to, serving, and respecting its people. Rebellion is deeply woven into the fabric of America’s existence. We are, as the ancient Romans would have understood, Janus-faced: one part of our instinctive, permanent character is loyalty, the other rebellion. But our survival as a democracy “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” depends on our ability to manage that inner conflict without ripping ourselves apart as a nation. It’s a daunting challenge. We were born in an act of rebellion against the legally-constituted government of Great Britain. But it was also a civil war between “Loyalists” (or Tories) against “Rebels” (or Patriots). It divided families and, pitted brothers against brothers and friends against friends. Eighty-two years later, the tensions that divide us erupted again in a frightful, tragic civil war. In my family on my mother’s side, it was called “The War Between the States,” or, more bitterly, “The War of Northern Aggression.” The Thomas family emigrated to America from Scotland in 1651 and settled in Virginia. My great grandfather, Lovick Thomas II, lived in Decatur, Georgia. He served as Colonel of the 42nd Georgia Infantry. I’ve read the diary kept by his wife, Jane Peeples Thomas and the letters they exchanged during the war. What emerges, roughly 150 years later, is a...

Living in Crazy World

Living in Crazy World JoAnn and I were on our way home yesterday from a gathering with friends when this news feed showed up on her IPhone: “ABC reports that President Obama has just signed an Executive Order outlawing the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.” I almost drove of the road in shock. “How could he do that?” “Why would he do that?”  “Has his mind been taken over by Extraterrestrial Aliens (or the Koch brothers?)” That was followed by the conviction “This is crazy, President Obama wouldn’t do that.” Of course it was crazy. When I got home and raced to fire up my laptop to find out what was really going on, I discovered it was all a hoax.  But tellingly, my first reaction was to treat this report as “news.” I think about this hoax now, which might be just an irresponsibly stupid prank but could as easily be a malicious attack of politically-driven misinformation. I can easily imagine Obama’s and Hillary’s detractors repeating it as gospel. “Have you heard what they’re doing now!  We need to put both of them in jail!” We have  serious drug problems in this country. But the most dangerous, in terms of the largest number of existing and potential addicts, is the narcotic of fear.  We shoot up every time we turn on the “news,”  respond to “anti-Social Media,” or pass along rumors with people who share our beliefs.  “Trump is going to destroy American democracy and turn us into a dictatorship.” “Hillary is in league with the World Bank, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg Group to destroy...